Endothelin: 30 years from discovery to therapy

Matthias Barton, Masashi Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Discovered in 1987 as a potent endothelial cell-derived vasoconstrictor peptide, endothelin-1 (ET-1), the predominant member of the endothelin peptide family, is now recognized as a multifunctional peptide with cytokine-like activity contributing to almost all aspects of physiology and cell function. More than 30 000 scientific articles on endothelin were published over the past 3 decades, leading to the development and subsequent regulatory approval of a new class of therapeutics-the endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs). This article reviews the history of the discovery of endothelin and its role in genetics, physiology, and disease. Here, we summarize the main clinical trials using ERAs and discuss the role of endothelin in cardiovascular diseases such as arterial hypertension, preecclampsia, coronary atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction in the absence of obstructive coronary artery disease (MINOCA) caused by spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), Takotsubo syndrome, and heart failure. We also discuss how endothelins contributes to diabetic kidney disease and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, as well as cancer, immune disorders, and allograft rejection (which all involve ETA autoantibodies), and neurological diseases. The application of ERAs, dual endothelin receptor/angiotensin receptor antagonists (DARAs), selective ETB agonists, novel biologics such as receptortargeting antibodies, or immunization against ETA receptors holds the potential to slow the progression or even reverse chronic noncommunicable diseases. Future clinical studies will show whether targeting endothelin receptors can prevent or reduce disability from disease and improve clinical outcome, quality of life, and survival in patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1265
Number of pages34
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical trial
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Lung diseases
  • Molecular biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Renal insufficiency, chronic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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